On Sunday 26th October I was immortalised as a piece of feminist nail art.
When I told my boyfriend exactly what I just typed above he said “I know that’s technically a sentence but it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – that’s just a series of words”. It turned out he was thinking of the nails you bang into a wall and imagined I was being made into an installation not dissimilar to one of those PinPoint toys we used to stick our hand in as children of the 80s. That is because he has the brain of a boy.
Anyway, I digress. CLEARLY what was going on was not some terrifying hardware experiment (which I’m secretly now actually quite keen to see brought to life) but the placing of my face on a fingernail. Which immediately made me hope people would wear me on their middle finger, so that ‘flipping the bird’ would henceforth be known as ‘giving a Natasha Devon’. I JUST NATASHA DEVON’ED YOU! YEAH! IN YOUR FACE! SWIVEL ON MY NATASHA DEVON!
It’s not every day you can say people are queueing to have your face placed upon their anatomies. Attendees of Cambridge’s WOW Festival, where the feminist nail art
stall was situated, kept tweeting me pictures of their hands saying “look! I got you! Isn’t this cool!?”. And it was very cool indeed, if not a little surreal.
I was amongst a selection of women that young people in Cambridge had chosen to place on their feminist fingers. When I was told about it, I was understandably honoured and overjoyed and my initial thought was ‘I wish to go to Cambridge and hug every young woman I encounter’.
Then I contemplated how time consuming that might be and instead turned my thoughts to the juxtaposition between feminism and beauty treatments which has, as far as I know, never been so overtly and powerfully expressed.
It was poignant, I thought, coming as it did at a time when the final nail (ha! Geddit?) was put in the coffin of the idea that feminists can’t be ‘girly’ by such pop culture icons as Caitlin Moran, India Knight and Emma Watson.
The equality movement is all about choice. If we choose to remain makeup and bra free or not to shave our armpits in tribute to a more traditional era of feminism then that is fantastic. But equally, if we choose to have beauty treatments, to wear makeup and to hoist our assets into an arrangement of cleavage, we are no less advocates for the rights of women.
Experimenting with fashion and beauty is a right in itself – After all, it’s OUR body and it’s up to us what we want to do with it. As a body confidence campaigner, my only proviso to this is to ask that we make these choices because we are expressing ourselves and that we do it in a spirit of celebration, not of apology.
For me, getting a manicure is an occasional pleasure. I love having beautifully painted and sculpted nails, but most of the time my nails are a super short, asymmetrical, polish-ness mish mash. The important thing is to know that I’m equally feminist in either state.
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